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March 26, 2020

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Buses back on the road as Wuhan lifts curbs

AS a bus left its departure stop at Hankou Railway Station at 5:25am yesterday, Wuhan resumed its bus service after nine weeks of lockdown.

Wuhan, capital of the central Hubei Province and the former epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, resumed 117 bus routes yesterday, around 30 percent of the city’s total bus transport capacity, the municipal transport bureau said.

Apart from a driver, a safety supervisor was also on each bus, whose duty was to make sure all passengers scan a QR code using their mobile phones to certify their health status before boarding.

“For those who do not have health codes, they should bring with them a health certificate issued by their residential community,” said Zhou Jingjing, a safety supervisor aboard a bus departing from Wuchang Railway Station complex.

Bus drivers and safety supervisors should be screened for fever, wear masks and gloves during the trip, open windows for ventilation and disinfect the buses after each trip.

Zhou said all passengers must wear masks and sit apart from one another to reduce the risk of cross-infection.

Bus passenger Shao Xuefen, a supermarket worker in Wuhan, spent around three hours commuting to work by bike every day since the supermarket resumed business on March 10.

“I am excited that the bus service has resumed. It helps a lot. I hope more bus routes can return to normal,” Shao said.

Having worked for 12 years as a bus driver, Zhou hopes to get back to her earlier position soon. “I’m looking forward to the day when the epidemic is over and life in Wuhan returns to normal,” she said.

From Saturday, six metro lines are expected to reopen to the public. The service time will be published at the stations, the transport bureau said.

On January 23, Wuhan declared unprecedented traffic restrictions, including suspending public transport and all outbound flights and trains, in a bid to block the spread of the epidemic to other areas. Similar restrictions were soon introduced in other areas in Hubei.

Hubei provincial authorities ended restrictions on outbound traffic starting yesterday, with the exception of Wuhan, which is expected to lift outbound travel curbs on April 8, according to a notice issued on Tuesday.

No new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Wuhan on Tuesday, and yesterday local authorities downgraded the city’s epidemic risk level from “high” to “medium.”

At Hubei’s Huangshibei Railway Station, the first train resuming operation was G2045 from central city of Zhengzhou to the southeastern city of Xiamen, with more than 100 people boarding the train from the station at 11:11am, according to Feng Yulin, Party secretary of the station that had been closed since January 24.

“Today, a total of eight trains passed through the station that welcomed about 1,000 passengers, and the number is expected to hit around 2,000 tomorrow,” Feng said. “I feel relieved to see the operation gradually return to normal.”

For the safety of passengers, the station has invited a professional team to conduct comprehensive disinfection of platforms, elevators, toilets and other areas, according to Feng.




 

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